Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fade to Black--Alex Flinn

Alex Crusan is an HIV+ student driving to Dunkin' Donuts one morning when his windshield is hit with a baseball bat, breaking the window and causing flying glass to cut him. Crawling on the floor of his car he manages to hit the gas and drive away from the assailant.

Clinton Cole is an intolerant student who wants nothing more than to see Alex Crusan leave his school. He is intolerant because he is afraid. He's scared that he or his family will get HIV just by breathing the same air as Crusan. He's so scared he's willing to do whatever it takes to send Crusan a message.

Daria Bickell claims she sees Cole smash Crusan's window. But did the Down Syndrome girl really see what she says she saw?

Told in these three alternating viewpoints, Fade to Black is an excellent example of how people's perceptions of the truth are different. On the surface Clinton Cole is an intolerant bigot. But is he really capable of violence? He's just a scared kid who's misguided and needs some help. Daria Bickell just wants to help, to be a hero, but how far is she willing to go to do that?

I liked the story. Once again Alex Flinn has written an engaging interesting book. It's good for everyone--boys, girls, high schoolers, middle schoolers.

Reading: I'll get to it.
On My Nightstand: Way too many.

Heavy Metal and You--Christopher Krovatin

Yes. I know. I have no excuse. Well, other than holidays with a toddler. I started this book ages ago and then time got away from me. But then I finished it in a big burst of reading on Monday. Life just gets in the way.

Sam and Melissa are complete opposites. Sam is a metalhead--a serious metalhead who knows metal history. Melissa is a preppie girl. They fall for each other, but the relationship is doomed. Melissa tries to change Sam too much, while at the same time being intrigued by his bad boy image. She tries to escape her preppie lifestyle by dating Sam, but it falls apart.

I loved the heavy metal music references (aside: I love metal. I bought my toddler the thunderlords cd--heavy metal music for kids.) I loved how Sam brought intelligence to the scene. Even to the seemingly illogical practice of moshing...

This is a solid first novel. It's a good romance book for boys--it's not heavy on the romance, but the relationship is the major plot in the story. Juggling a new girlfriend who seems perfect and out of your league with your best friends who are at odds with her, is a difficult thing to do. Krovatin portrays this nicely. There's enough metal, drugs and swearing to interest boys, and enough of the relationship to interest girls. I'd keep it for the high school kids because there is strong (realistic) language, but also because I think middle schoolers just won't really get it.
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